Look by Solmaz SharifA challenging read in the best sense, where Sharif appropriates the odd language and definitions from a DOD military dictionary, taking these utterly empty bureaucratic terms and interleaving them with stark images of violence and war. The emotional impact of these poems is deadened by the DOD terms, and then brought to shocking, contrasting life by the original language and images in other parts of the poems. The effect on me as a reader was one of disintegration and loss. I was left with an awareness that language itself has become deranged and cheapened--you see the cheapening directly in the ridiculously formal, empty military terms, but also you reach an understanding of how continuous violence deadens the reaction to any one atrocity, and where words describing any one atrocity lose their emotive power. There is a lack of faith in words to mean anything, in these poems. The poems feel like shattered pieces of meanings strewn about for me to pick up.
The collection also reminded me a little bit of Kathy Ackers fiction. Not in subject matter or even tone but rather, for its cynical, almost nihilistic take on the power of language to mean anything, to say anything. Its quite a feat to pull of an emotionally wrenching work of language while simultaneously doubting the force of language.
The collection resonated with me all the more because I have been thinking a lot about the hollowing-out of language during this US election year, where sometimes the rhetoric I hear from speeches and rallies reminds me of the 1984 gem:
War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.
Which Power and Conflict Poems Compare Well?
Fifteen of the most moving First World War poems
War poetry is poetry about war either written by a person who participates in a war and writes about his experiences ; or by a non-combatant. One of the oldest extant works of Western literature, Iliad , is a war poem. It is set during the Trojan War, one of the most important events in Greek mythology. The term war poet is sometimes applied especially to those who served during World War I. English soldier Wilfred Owen is perhaps the most famous war poet in that sense.
The horror of the war and its aftermath altered the world for decades, and poets responded to the brutalities and losses in new ways. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. You may notice that more poems in and extoll the old virtues of honor, duty, heroism, and glory, while many later poems after approach these lofty abstractions with far greater skepticism and moral subtlety, through realism and bitter irony.
This gallery provides a series of snapshots illustrating the way in which the First World War unfolded at home and abroad, and on land, in the air and over water. In this picture two airman, followed by a boy with a bike, make their way to a German zeppelin airship that had crash-landed in an Essex field in September In his introduction to The Oxford Book of War Poetry , Jon Stallworthy underlines the emotive power of poems about war: "'Poetry', Wordsworth reminds us, 'is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings', and there can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war: hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred not only for the enemy, but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; love for fellow soldiers, for women and children left behind, for country often and cause occasionally. The First World War was "one of the seminal moments of the twentieth century in which literate soldiers, plunged into inhuman conditions, reacted to their surroundings in poems," Oxford University English lecturer Dr Stuart Lee says. Many collections of poems from and about the First World War have been drawn together over the past years. Below are some of the best. In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.